Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Parliamentary Representation


8:11 pm

Photo of Jenny McAllisterJenny McAllister (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to make a few brief remarks and, given the hour, I will keep them brief—and I hope that my brevity isn't mistaken for a lack of interest or care, because there's actually a lot to say about the people who are giving valedictory speeches this evening. I will be very brief about Nigel, because Senator Scullion and I have had very significant political differences. But he has approached that task of responding to the aspirations and hopes of First Nations people with integrity and sincerity, and that has always been obvious. I also want to thank him for something very particular, which is that, just recently, I took to him a problem which was the problem of the Charities Commissioner, Gary Johns, repudiating the welcome to country as a practice in that institution. I thought that was disgraceful and, unfortunately, consistent with that commissioner's other repugnant views. Nigel was straight on it, repudiated it, and took him on, because he wasn't willing to allow those ideas to stand uncontested on his watch as Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

Senator Claire Moore came here after she had been a leader in her own union and a national leader in the Labor Party. She then served in our national parliament. The speech she gave this evening reflects all that she brought to this parliament. She determined always to play the ball and not the man or the woman—and the cricket pun is intended, even though I know nothing about cricket beyond those core facts. She has brought a passion for justice, she has advocated always for feminism and for women's interests, and she is totally committed to the practice of democracy—deep practice—not just once every three years at election time but through meaningful engagement with the communities that we serve. Claire, the women of the Labor Party in particular observe your quiet leadership style and thank you for the example that you've provided here.

Finally, I want to talk about my fellow New South Wales senator, Doug. He has made no secret over time that he comes from the left tradition in the New South Wales party, and so do I. He mentioned some of the members of that tradition here in the Senate, Senators Murphy, Childs, Gietzelt, Faulkner and Campbell. Doug has totally lived up to the example set by those senators—a tradition of speaking truth even when it is uncomfortable, of consistency in advocating for values. Doug has been all of those things and more.

I want to talk briefly this evening about what he's meant for the progressive people in that tradition, in New South Wales and nationally, because Doug has pursued many causes, but none is dearer to Doug's heart than the cause of working people. In his political engagement he's been so important in articulating what that means for Labor. He has articulated at an intellectual level the political significance of solidarity and working-class politics and representation. He has made the policy case for action in so many domains to support working-class people. At some deep and personal level, he has articulated and communicated the inherent dignity of every working person and, even more importantly, the significance and meaning of collective action in realising that dignity.

I will really miss Doug. The branch members and trade unionists of New South Wales will really miss him. We have been so proud to have him represent us, and we wish him and Elaine the very best in Tasmania.


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